A fresh start

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On Monday night, Franklin’s City Council ushered in a new era of the city’s public school system when it voted to appoint Bob Holt, Andrea Hall-Leonard, Amy Phillips, Becky Jester and Ron Rusnak to fill five of the seven seats on the city’s vacant school board. In our opinion each was a good candidate, and each was the best person for the respective seat they were appointed to. They form the foundation of what has the potential to be an outstanding board, and allow council the luxury of time in waiting for the best possible candidates to emerge for the still vacant wards four and five seats.

The trials and tribulations of the school boards of recent past are well documented and do not require retelling at this point in time, but there are two specific areas of performance we’d like to specifically point out as ones we deem to be of vital importance: oversight and transparency.

These two issues are really joined at the hip. Much of what got the previous board into such hot water is that it didn’t provide adequate oversight for top administrators in central office, causing them to look uninformed and, frankly, downright foolish when questioned by city council and the state school board. That lack of fundamental understanding of what was actually taking place in the city’s schools and school board offices presumably caused board members to seek shelter from public scrutiny and exacerbated the appearance of impropriety in many instances.

The most important thing the new school board can do is regain control of the system, and clearly communicate with the community what is taking place in its schools. The slate has been wiped clean and the new board members have the opportunity to do just that. We have every confidence that, for the good of our students and the community as a whole, they will.